Alice Walker (born 1944) is an American writer and activist. She wrote the novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, among many other works. Her work is focused on the struggles of black people, particularly women, and their lives in a racist, sexist, violent American society.
When she was a student at Spelman College in the early 1960s, Walker became an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. She took part in the 1963 March On Washington. Later, she volunteered to register black voters in Georgia and Mississippi.
OnInternational Women’s Day 2003, on the eve of the Iraq War, Walker was arrested with 26 others, including fellow authors Maxine Hong Kingston at a protest outside the White House. Walker:
“I was with other women who believe that the women and children of Iraq are just as dear as the women and children in our families, and that, in fact, we are one family. And so it would have felt to me that we were going over to actually bomb ourselves.”
In March 2009, Walker and 60 other female activists from the anti-war group Code Pink traveled to Gaza in response to the Gaza War. Their purpose was to deliver aid, to meet with residents, and to persuade Israel and Egypt to open their borders with Gaza. She wrote about her meeting with an elderly Palestinian woman who, upon accepting a gift from Walker, said: “May God protect you from the Jews”. Walker responded, “It’s too late, I already married one”, referring to her former husband, a civil rights lawyer.
In June 2013, Walker appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning, the trans woman American soldier imprisoned for releasing classified information.
Walker met her Jewish husband. Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, in 1963. They married in 1967, in NYC. Later that year, the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi. They were harassed and threatened by whites, including the Ku Klux Klan.
In the mid-1990s, Walker began a romance with singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, saying “It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours”. Walker claims she is bisexual out of curiosity.